God is always good.
I am sure if I had a chance to share here last night you would have been vomited on with information. His timing is always perfect. We are halfway finished with our eight week training course to become foster parents. We learn more each week and are thankful for this time to prepare for reality.
Yesterday was a veteran resource (the up-and-coming name to replace "foster" because of it negative association) parent who shared some of her story and what to expect from the experience. She and her husband have adopted three sibling sets through the foster care system in our county. She said they started fostering while they were waiting to get pregnant naturally after five years of marriage. After awhile they realized that this was God's plan for growing their family. They now have six kids who were all once foster children. She is a rock star.
I am not going to lie. She shared some scary stuff but it was all honest and helpful. After 20 years of fostering, she was a wealth of knowledge. And since each set of kids joined her family in twos (at varying age stages) she had experience to answer all kinds of questions. There were many joys too (which could still be considered scary).
She talked about how she kept a journal. My Love wrote a note on my paper reminding me of how I did that when I was a nanny years ago. It was amazing to see how far a 7 month year old had come after two years of writing down his daily milestones for his working parents. I am excited to have evidence of the miracles God will do in the lives of the children he places with us. We will celebrate every step in growth he allows us to witness.
She boldly made a statement I needed to hear clearly. "All of the children who have ever been placed with us have been sexually abused. And I would venture to guess is you lined up 90 foster parents, 89 of them would say the same thing." We aren't talking "most" anymore. This is something we will need to expect. (cue the freaking out grandparents). In the initial introductions, we mentioned our desire to keep with birth order (there are different schools of thought on the topic). To be honest I was still open to breaking open the box we might of be putting God in if they called us with an older child (but still preschool age). This woman agreed with the plan for our family. She thought the foster child should always be the youngest in the family with natural born children present. I think that confirmation solidified our hearts on the topic.
The stories she shared about the lives her children had before they came to her were heartbreaking. One woman was planning to give her son to her girlfriend as a gift so she put her friend's last name on the birth certificate. One woman (maybe the same one?) named her son Devil and told him he had the devil in him. His birth sister was named Angel. Um...yeah that would leave some lingering issues in a person. All of her kids had issues with food. One boy in particular would ask at every meal/snack IF they would eat again. And there have been attachment issues. One of their daughters has been in their family since 3 years old and is no 11 but she said is the least attached to them as parents. "It took six months before she smiled and boy did we celebrate that first one!"
She has had the benefit of decades of years behind her with some of the older kids. She knows had they stayed in the situations they were in they would have lived very different and hard lives. She admitted that they will each have issues for the rest of their lives. It is not like a warm bed and loving parents will cure any length of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. In fact, abuse sprung up in her household between an older boy and younger girl (cue freaking out me).
But something happened last night. I took in all the information and felt completely covered in prayer. There were no tears on the ride home this time, just praising God. The woman shared what her oldest son was up to now. At 28 he was married and doing well. However he is covered in tattoos and has gauges in his ears (not that there is anything wrong with that). But she described it as an outward expression of his unworthiness and his desire to keep reinventing himself to be loved. "Nothing will ever fill that void inside him," she said. I turned and looked toward My Love agreeing that we knew the One who could. "Except God!" she added after a short pause. I let out a whisper-yell from the back-ish row, "Amen!" And that is when it hit me. Satan would like nothing else but for us to panic and worry and fill our minds with anxious thoughts about the what-ifs. I choose not to do that. I choose to think about who God is and prepare ourselves to tell each child over and over and over who He says they are. I am completely ill-equipped to deal with any of the other abuse, but I know I can share God's love with a hurting child. His love is the only thing that will heal their wounds anyway. Hey. God's love! Isn't he amazing?! I have been studying the gospel of John this week and am excited to share all he has taught me that is changing my life about how I should be loving others. See you on Sunday about that one.
When I got in the car to drive home, a song came on the radio by Brandon Health called "Your Love". I cranked up the volume obnoxiously loud for the chorus. How does he do that?
But Your love
The only thing that matters is Your love
Your love is all I have to give
Your love is enough to light up the darkness
It’s Your love
all I ever needed is Your love
I am so thankful that I know His love and am excited to share it with the children we come to know and love in our home.
Our home study is this coming Monday. Keep praying. We feel each prayer lifted on our behalf.